Janey's Blogs - August 2010
Friday the 6th of August 2010
It's cobbles and rain time
So we are in Edinburgh. It took one big car move to do so; Ashley seems to have moved everything she owns to the mews house we rented.
The place is awesome, I have to say, though it's full of antiques and expensive art work and there are two Samurai swords on a table in the hallway, just in case one of us develops schizophrenia and goes mad on the Royal Mile and slashes a big troupe of amateur actors, which can happen.
Our first day here we got the flat organised, we got the flyers and posters in and we checked out the venue. My venue at the Pleasance Dome was all up and running. I couldn't really see my posters anywhere but I always get paranoid about that. Meanwhile, there are GIGANTIC posters of some comics off the telly gracing the main area up at Bristo Square, I was sorely tempted to draw big moustaches and colour in teeth but refrained.
Edinburgh council now charge you per poster that goes up on their precious boards across the city, which makes me insane. I know they have to monitor the amount of posters that go up, but the charges are ludicrous. It means only the big name acts with a TV presence can afford to do this, therefore the smaller shows in smaller rooms will suffer.
Comedy is big business. There are now career comedians who decided on comedy as a chosen path... they get a technique, they get a big agent, they get some decent writers and they get on with job of being famous.
It isn't an art anymore; it's a 'career' its much like the way some pop bands are packaged and presented; it doesn't come from the heart; it doesn't come from treading the small rooms above a pub; it isn't honing a deep need to voice your words; it's all about the ability to be young, fresh and getting your face on telly. Good on them, but it does feel hollow at times, when you see clones and clones of skinny blokes in an interesting Trilby hat or with hair that looks raped running about the stage all saying much of the same thing! Then again we had a swathe of blokes in working class togs all being Billy Connolly for a decade, so it's swings and roundabouts all round.
So, all that aside, I am enjoying the festival. My first comedy show had a reviewer in which was scary for me as I hadn't actually written or performed the show up till that point. That will teach me!
The kids' show has been very eye opening for me: firstly babies love comedy shows; they like to crawl around the stage on their belly and small kids either LOVE singing or LOVE screaming… who knew?
Ashley and I have been on a steep learning curve with that situation, but she loves kids and it shows, though it is hard to entertain kids when a baby is choking on a wooden spoon you gave it to bang a drum with.
OK Edinburgh. BRING IT ON!
Saturday the 14th of August 2010
Fun times and hard work
OK, I know the blog is late… Do you know what I have been doing? Well, basically loads of shows and high jinkery at night here at the Edinburgh Fringe!
Right, so we had to cancel the kids show as Ashley got a virus and the rumour that I stood on a baby wasn't true in the least! But the show was great fun and people brought in babies everyday… just babies… and a few smaller kids, so it was hard to entertain kids when babies were wandering the stage. Ashley ended up on the floor every day with small sticky babies crawling all over her.
The kids show got good reviews and MY ONE WOMAN SHOW The Godley Hour has had two FIVE star reviews and ONE four star review!
Though I am happy doing my thing it has to be said that Edinburgh Fringe has changed… dramatically... it's no longer about people going to see a wee show in a small venue; it's all about EVERYONE going to see people they have watched on telly. It's heartbreaking as many small theatre shows, comedy gigs and amazing, interesting shows aren't getting an audience as the big telly comics are hoovering up the crowds.
Most people I meet are very despondent, not negative but just gloomy as they can't get people to take a punt on an unknown show anymore; people on the street ask, "Have you been on the telly?" and, if they don't recognise your face, they don't want to come to the shows.
That aside, me and Ashley are pretty exhausted and, because we are in someone else's flat for the Fringe, we are covered in bruises as we keep whacking our elbows and arms off door handles and unfamiliar furniture… I look like a battered wife!
Husband isn't here with us and I miss him dearly. He is right to stay away as he is bored with Edinburgh. Everyone gets bored, especially with flyerers coming at you in droves shoving their flyers into your face… It can be daunting but be kind to them. They are doing their job!
The weather has been either really warm or BATTERING rain which scatters the tourists into shop fronts. The good thing about the rain is that it stops clutches of Italians from standing 13 deep on the small cobbled pavements of Edinburgh's ancient streets and making us all nearly get flattened by a tour bus as we try to go round them and fall into the busy road.
Why can't tourists just go single file? Why do they have to stand in an annoying circle on a tiny sidewalk and open a big map and point at the skyline? The good news is I kick my way through them. It doesn't make me popular, but it makes me happy!
Ashley has been a blessing and makes me laugh; she looks after me and keeps sending me for a nap when I do late night gigs. I have done Late and Live at 2am and am doing Spank at 2am soon… Fuck, I am tired.
I also realised that I am the most ethnic person at the Fringe; I am THE ONLY white, working class, uneducated, Scottish woman over 40 doing comedy! Surely a grant will be allocated my way soon?
So life is hard work and good fun, the crowds coming in to my show have been awesome and I am humbled at the return business every year after year. I thank thee all from the bottom of my wee Scottish heart!
Come see me at the Pleasance Dome beside the upside-down purple cow in Bristo Square every night at 7pm… I will make you welcome.
Monday the 16th of August 2010
Things in life
A man dressed as King Henry the Eighth eating a kebab, a unicyclist falling and hurting his head, a woman abandoning her baby in a pram to scream in excitement at Stephen K Amos (barking up the wrong tree, love), a BBC Tee Shirt clad assistant vomiting into the barbeque at Gilded Balloon, a critic loudly slag off a female comic who was standing right behind her, a female comic telling people my show has been getting no stars as I was standing behind HER (two five stars and a four, love, watch your back), and a wee woman calling a flyerer an "inconsiderate cunt"… these are a few of my favourite things so far at the Fringe!
The week has been great, amazing audiences and lovely reviews, am happy people; I also had a few good meetings and a cracking audition, who knows what next?
My flyering team have been super sexy and fun, so good on them.
Ashley has been so wonderful and feeling so much better. I am blessed with having her around. Who else can do Alan Partridge impersonations at 4am to make me laugh? Who else can do owl noises and catch spiders like she? No-one that's who!
Meanwhile, I have mastered the spoons. I know you have all been waiting with excited anticipation but I did it. I got two big spoons, clacked them off my knee and can now do the whole of the song Seven Tears by the Goombay Dance Band…. on the clacky spoons; Ashley accompanies me with a tambourine; we are thinking of starting a band. I am thinking of organising a three thousand seater venue or even Wembley for the first night, but suppose I should extend my repertoire to more than one song.
I never knew I was that musical.
My late night shows at Late 'n' Live and Spank! have been awesome and the Late 'n' Live gig has become quite a story as a skinny blonde girl from Oxford threw a stool at me as I walked on stage and challenged me to a fight. Now, as you all know, I have been waiting years to beat a skinny Oxbridge bedwetter to death with a three legged seat, but I declined and let her live. We do need more law students and god forbid she doesn't get to ski this winter. The audience stamped theirfeet shouting "Kill her, Janey!" but I didn't; she got thrown out and I never hit her coz am a feminist.
The Fringe is in full swing but why don't other flyerers know not to try to get people with venue passes on to buy a ticket for their interesting play about a one-eyed boy on a boat? I don't know?
There are amazing plays on and I try to go see them, I did go see Tony Tanner's one-man show Charlatan at Assembly on the Mound and it was stunning, just an awesome piece of theatre.
The other good news is the flat has a juicer and am devouring six carrots, four apples and some organic ginger every day in a glass; soon I will be eating aubergine paste, starting a macramé class and offering wheatgrass workshops to the women who love cats and croc shoes.
So, if you are reading this and coming to the Fringe come see me at The Pleasance Dome at 7pm every night till end of August.
Thursday the 26th of August 2010
Sorry am late but I have an excuse!
Am STILL at the Edinburgh Fringe… it seems like ten weeks instead of four, let me tell you. I have bonded with the white Scottie Dog called Hector who lives in our cobbled stoned mews area; he has a floppy ear and wee black button eyes and chases squirrels and loves cuddles. I am addicted to the dishwasher in the three floored mews we are staying in and I adore the juicer.
The shows have been awesome. I have bitched and whined about the McEwan Hall which seats over 1,000 folk sucking in all the punters, but the basic truth is people just want to go see people they have seen on the telly… I am not on the telly, so ergo people have no real interest in me, except the people who are fans of my comedy.
Though the numbers have been fabulous, I am aware that the glut of footfall has been avoiding the small shows, the interesting theatre and the fantastic musical shows. It kind of rings like a death knell for the Fringe if the punters just want to go see people off the telly… that's not a Fringe that's a TV comedy festival!
OK, done moaning about that.
I am knackered just being here and it feels like some alternative life I am living, though getting to see loads of cracking comedy pals has been awesome and making new pals is worthwhile.
Ashley is bored with me tweeting or reading in her company: she has gotten into an attention-seeking vibe, much like when she was five years old. "Put that book down and talk to me, Mum," she whinges… We have been together too long here in Edinburgh. She needs her own life back; she needs her room, her computer and her own pals.
My mate Monica calls and we can't have a decent natter coz I am either in a show or going to a show, coming from a show or asleep.
The people coming to the show and chatting afterwards have been wickedly nice. How cool to meet people who like what you do?
Twitter, Facebook and the internet in general have changed the way comedians interact with their audiences; they now can let you know they are coming, they can arrange a gab afterwards and all those people you wished happy birthday to on the internet or commented on their baby photos can now contact you and we get to know each other more. That's awesome.
When I first came to the Fringe in 1995, things were different. There were no 60 foot posters or faces on a taxi. A young long haired Ed Byrne was cutting a career out, a bouncy manic Brendan Burns was screaming at people in Late n Live, Johnny Vegas was crippled with nerves driving through with me from Glasgow and comedy was dependant not on telly appearances or internet campaigns or adverts but on people making choices about what they fancied. Mobile phones weren't that common,
How the hell did we survive? How did we know a gig was running late and who was next on, how did we contact venues about ticket sales, promoters tickets without email and text? No-one held up a phone and took pictures of Ross Noble's crowd surfing and let millions view it instantly on the web! It was the old days when word of mouth was king.
It was the days when people used watches to tell the time but progress is an amazing thing, people, and it helps with comedy ticket sales.
Am looking forward to getting this weekend out of the way and getting back to normality, sleeping in my own bed and not checking stars on my reviews. There is a life outside Edinburgh and apparently it is dominated by a woman who threw a cat in a wheelie bin…That's all the news I know… Has anything else happened in the world since I have been here? No… didn't think so.
Come see my last weekend at Pleasance Dome 7pm nightly.